Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy and a lot more fun. She’s best known for her Menopausal Superhero series of novels and stories.
When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, gaming, walking in the woods with her rescue dog, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).
Samantha, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I have yet to meet a nerd who did not grow up idolizing or, at least, madly respecting a myriad of heroes, super or otherwise, while growing up. Who inspired you to be the best version of yourself?
I grew up in a strong matriarchy, with a terrifying and impressive great grandmother, a loving and possibly crazy grandmother, and my own creative and inspiring mother. They all worked and loved hard and taught me to be the same way. At the same time, I had all these giant uncles (my mom was the only girl in her family, and the only member of her family under six feet tall) who I really believed could do anything, and my dad and grandfather who seemed to be able to build or fix absolutely anything. So, I was surrounded by lots of real-life heroes who believed in hard work and loyalty.
Maybe that’s why superheroes felt so natural to me when I discovered them. Spiderman had nothing on my family for taking responsibility and trying to do what’s right. We just have to do it without superpowers.
Kate Colby said the Menopausal Superheroes series is for those who “love superheroes, feminism, and a dash of humor”. What do you think readers should expect from these three books? What inspired you to write them?
I generally describe the books as women’s fiction in a superhero setting. There’s plenty of action and exploration of superpowers, but the characters are kept grounded in real-life concerns like careers, partners, children, and community responsibilities.
The idea started in a conversation with my husband, as do many of my most dangerous and exciting ideas. We had just watched one of the X-Men movies and I was complaining about how the heroes are always so young that it was like superpowers came packaged with puberty. I said something like, “Well, if hormones cause superpowers than menopausal women should have the corner on that market.”
We laughed. But the more I thought about it, the more compelling I found the idea of exploring what would happen if the people to gain powers weren’t children or loners, but adult women with fully developed lives. Several years and three books later, I’m still loving playing in this sandbox.
Do you believe readers might have misconceptions about the Menopausal Superheroes series? What messages do you hope stay with readers after completing the series?
When I’m hand-selling at conventions and book events, young people and male people often assume that the stories won’t appeal to them. Just the word “menopause” gives some people the heebie-jeebies. But, I think there’s something in these stories for a variety of readers. Body issues and life/work balance problems are not limited to menopausal women after all, and who doesn’t like a good fire wielder or bulletproof lizard woman? If you like character development alongside your fight scenes and detective work, you’ll probably like my heroes.
The overarching message of the series is about the importance of friendship and kindness. I hope I entertain and leave people thinking at the same time.
You are also a member of the Pen and Cape Society, which publishes The Good Fight series, as well as The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Give us some insight into these unique communities and the body of works they offer to readers.
You forgot Broad Universe! Yes, I’ve really benefitted from being a part of all of these professional organizations.
Broad Universe is a group that supports women writing speculative fiction. I’ve been very fortunate to connect with talented writers through Broad Universe events and gain some insights and informal mentoring. They don’t publish as an organization, but they do help writers connect to a community of other writers and share resources and support. The best part for me has been participating in group readings at conventions, building my skill and comfort with public presentation of my work.
The Pen and Cape Society is an organization for writers of superhero fiction. They are putting out their fifth anthology of short superhero fiction here soon (I’m in the third and fourth collection, but didn’t submit to this one). They’re a supportive group of people who have been instrumental in helping me find a wider audience through anthology opportunities and cross promotion.
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group began as a blogging group. On the first Wednesday of each month, writers at all different stages of career post on their blogs about their writing insecurities. The best thing about this group is the positivity and kindness. It’s hard to find any kind of audience at first, and reading the monthly confessions of other writers has helped me find my own path and craft a writing life that works for me. I’ve made some lasting friendships and connections with writers all around the world through this group. More recently, IWSG has expanded to include a book club on Goodreads and to produce fiction and nonfiction writing advice anthologies. I’ve got essays in a couple of their collections.
Of course, you have also been featured in multiple anthologies too. Which story was your favorite to write? Are there any we have left out that you have to tell us about?
My favorite story is usually the one I’m writing right now, so I guess that would be an unpublished one called “The Gleewoman of Preservation” which I’m hoping will get picked for an anthology of clown horror later this year.
I really love writing for anthologies, though, especially themed ones, because it’s a way to experiment in new forms, genres, and worlds on a small scale, and maybe even get paid for it. I’m especially fond of my Southern Gothic short story in Beyond the Pane, which was an anthology in which all the stories began with the same first line: “There was something not quite right about the window.” I thought I was writing straight literary fiction until the story took that left turn at Albuquerque and took me along with it into a demon lover story with shades of Dorian Gray.
I’m working to put out an anthology of my Shadow Hill stories this October. These are all weird tales set in a suburban neighborhood suspiciously familiar to the one I live in, but where all the strange happenings have supernatural explanations.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything else you would like to add?
Watch for that Shadow Hill anthology this fall! There are a few short stories being considered right now, but nothing to announce yet.
The novel I’m working on right now should be finished by the end of summer, at which point I’ll decide how I want to go about releasing it into the wild. It’s a young adult near future dystopian called Thursday’s Children. I wanted to write something my students could read, and I’m really enjoying trying on a whole new genre and audience.
It has been a pleasure, Samantha! Please tell us where fans can find you online.
Thanks! I’ve enjoyed talking with you, too. If you know my name, that’s usually enough to find me. My website and blog is Balancing Act and I’m on Facebook. I also play around on Twitter and on Instagram, if you like pictures of walks in the woods and my Australian Shepherd.